Today's data center operations are more complex than ever before, but in the past three decades, only one thing has remained the same. The battery is a key but not perfect part of the data center power supply chain. The UPS power supply system of the data center has adopted valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries for decades.

This situation began to change. After nearly 30 years of development and progress, lithium-ion batteries have completely changed the status quo of consumer electronic products by reducing size, weight, and extending battery life, and have become one of the data centers using valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries. A viable alternative. In fact, according to ResearchandMarkets' survey report on the global data center UPS market, lithium-ion batteries are expected to account for 35% of the UPS battery market share by 2025, which may be too conservative.

A growing market
The advantages of lithium-ion batteries are obvious. the most important is:
1. Longer life span
The working life of lithium-ion batteries is four times that of valve-regulated lead-acid batteries, and the continuous discharge time is usually two to three times that of lead-acid batteries. Why is working life so important? Because the most important cost associated with the battery is the replacement cost. In most cases, lead-acid batteries have to be replaced multiple times before replacing lithium-ion batteries for the first time.

2. Reduce cooling costs
There are many factors that affect the cooling required for batteries and related costs, but some lithium-ion batteries can operate at higher ambient temperatures than lead-acid batteries and reduce battery cooling costs by 70%.

The battery management system is an indispensable part of protecting the battery from excessive charging or discharging current, low or high voltage, and high temperature. Each battery or battery pack can be monitored and continuously controlled without the need for operation by data center managers. In addition, battery operating data can be exported to other monitoring systems without any additional costs.
Today's battery management systems and integrated battery storage solutions simplify the deployment of lithium-ion batteries.

The safe operation of batteries is crucial, because the industry is constantly adjusting the fire protection regulations for lithium-ion batteries. NFPA1 and IFC2018 are currently being gradually adopted, and may introduce new variables in the UPS battery decision-making process.

These new fire codes stipulate the minimum installation distance between lithium-ion battery cabinets, unless the manufacturer can prove that any fire in the battery cabinet will not spread to other equipment in the system. Unfortunately, there is no pass/fail standard for this fire test requirement. During this period, it may be necessary for the company to share the fire test results with local firefighters to gain their approval of the deployment plan. This is a step that a responsible supplier is prepared to take.

Although pass/fail testing and approval mechanisms can alleviate uncertainty, any effort to ensure a safer workplace should be recognized. These steps are somewhat similar to the development of the automotive industry, and electric vehicles are early adopters of lithium-ion batteries. Once the various industries have determined the safety requirements for these batteries, manufacturers will design products that meet these requirements. The same situation will happen in the data center.

The key for data center managers is to cooperate with lithium-ion suppliers with expertise and funds to conduct the required tests and ensure the safety of their solutions. Suppliers will adjust according to these fire protection regulations, and various industries will carry out this work more safely, but some lithium-ion battery manufacturers will be responsible for safety, and other manufacturers will follow and cooperate with them.

In addition to evolving safety standards, initial cost is often an important obstacle to the adoption of lithium-ion batteries. The initial cost of lithium-ion batteries is higher than that of lead-acid batteries, but this gap is gradually decreasing. Organizations with a longer-term vision and flexibility to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) will find lithium-ion batteries to be of great value. When considering more situations, this includes not only the upfront costs, but also installation costs, delayed replacement and maintenance costs, reduced cooling costs, and perhaps most importantly, considering the frequent replacement of lead-acid batteries, the application cost of lithium-ion batteries Compared to it is lower.

In addition, there are many different types of lithium-ion batteries, such as lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, lithium-ion manganese oxide (LMO) batteries, lithium nickel cobalt cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries, etc., which have become data centers. The preferred option, each option has advantages based on the required operating time. Many lithium-ion batteries used in today's data centers have been used and tested in electric and hybrid vehicles.

Historically, data center managers are technically conservative. When their work depends on reliability, there are good reasons for this, but more and more organizations are striving to reduce costs and meet the new needs of today’s users .

Lithium-ion batteries are not only a viable alternative to lead-acid batteries, they will become the first choice in many cases. And with the increase in relevant operating experience, lithium-ion batteries are likely to gain an important share in the field of data center UPS.

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